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Big Grove Brewery Iowa City opens

A rendering of Big Grove Iowa City. (courtesy Pappageorge Haymes Partners)

Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City opens this afternoon, marking the completion of one of the neighborhood's first major revitalization projects in the emerging Riverfront Crossings district.

The brewery and taproom is located at at 1225 S. Gilbert St. on the east side of Iowa City in the former Iowa Hawk Shop Outlet Building. Prior to the project's completion, Big Grove was poised to spend about $108,000 improving the exterior of the building, which was built on a former lumber yard.

The company requested $40,000 from the city last year for facade improvement costs to be paid for out of the Riverfront Crossings capital improvement budget.

The brewery is the second location for Big Grove, which opened a brew pub in Solon in 2013. Co-owner Matthew Swift previously indicated that the company does not plan to change any portion of the business in Solon, which will continue to operate as a brew pub, while the facility in Iowa City will become Big Grove's "production brewery and taproom."

Ben Smart, Big Grove Brewery's head chef, said this morning he was anxious to officially open the brewery's doors following a soft opening last weekend.

"It's exciting and nerve wracking, but at the same time, it's a wonderful feeling," Mr. Smart said. "I'm glad that we're finally here."

In a memo to city representatives last year, City Manager Geoff Fruin wrote that since the city adopted the Downtown and Riverfront Crossings Master Plan in 2013, interest among developers in the district's eastern edge near Big Grove's location has been relatively slow.

"However, staff believes the creative reuse of the building is a perfect fit in the context of the overall plan," Mr. Fruin wrote.

The brewery and taproom is scheduled to opened at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

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